Burnaby, Fred / A ride to Khiva: travels and adventures in central Asia
Chapter XXIX, pp. 229-235
ARRIVAL UPON THE BANKS OF THE AMU DARYA. 229 CHAPTER XXIX. The Oozek.-A Fragile Bridge.-The Oxus.-Khivan Taxation.-Russian Imports.-The Traders.-A Slug.-A Caravan.-Costumes.-Saddles.- Khivan Horses.-Salam Aaleikom.-Quarters for the Night.-Hospital- ity.-A Khivan House.-Melons.-Hindoostan and England.-Railways. -An Iron Horse.-Five Hundred Versts in Twenty-four Hours. Now we crossed a little stream about twenty yards wide, known by the name of the Oozek. It was said to be a tribu- tary of the Oxus. A rough bridge made of cross-poles, sticks, and dried clay afforded a means of crossing the water; for the banks were too steep to admit of a descent to the frozen sur- face. Finally, after riding along a narrow path planted on both sides with high reeds, we arrived upon the banks of the Amu Darya, and I gazed on that world-renowned stream, which in my boyish days it had been my dream to visit. The mighty Oxus-the Oxus of Alexander-lay at my feet, its' banks bound together by a bridge of transparent ice, which, here at least half a mile broad, is the boundary-line separating the subjects of the khan from those who pay tribute to the Tzar. Each Khivan has to pay an annual tax of eleven rubles for his house to the khan, while the inhabitants on the right bank of the river pay four rubles per kibitka to the Russian authori- ties. The Khivans, however, who live in town pay no taxes, and the sovereign obtains the greater part of his revenues from crown-lands, and from a duty of two and a half per cent. on the value of all goods which are imported or exported from his dominions. But this source of income is now curtailed, as the khan has become a vassal of the Emperor, and Russian goods pay no duty whatever.* Before crossing the Oxus we dismounted for a short time at * See treaty with Khiva, Appendix B.
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