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History of river Ili. Kazakhstan.

Nature tour in Kazakhstan.

“In conclusion, let us mention the Ili River, flowing from the Chinese possessions and also flowing into Balkhash. On it stands the main Chinese border city on the western side, Ili (Guldzha), and closer to the mouth some clans of the Great Kyrgyz Cossack Horde roam.”

Levshin A.I. “Description of the Kyrgyz-Cossack or Kyrgyz-Kaisak mountains and steppes.” 1833.

Asian Highway and Kazakhstan.

It is possible to assume that the river Ili "The brilliant river". It is necessary to consider that locals in the ancient time were interested in the river sizes, but not its gloss. The name of the river is mentioned in the Chinese chronicles in 270 g, honor for one thousand years before appearance of troops of Genghis Khan.
The Turkic scientist Mahmoud of Kashgaria living in the XIth century mentions this river under the name of Ila. Before arrival is Mongols here, there were nearly 200 more years. Respectively, value of the Mongolian origin for an explanation of the name of the river cannot be accepted.
There is an opinion that the name Ili has communication with Huns (hunny). They created the empire in the territory of present Mongolia and Northeast China about 2,5 thousand years ago. The empire represented the union of multilingual tribes where ancient Tyurk language predominated.
And one more important information: Mahmoud of Kashgari, described hunting, reported: "... to the valley of Ili, the great river, the game was delivered". He probably knew sense of this word. From geographical concepts the name "Big River" is very logical.
Really, troops, caravans and numerous travelers at the movement from the North from Irtysh had to overcome the small rivers mainly by wading, and having only passed thousands of kilometers they reached Ili ("The big river" through which were transported by swimming, as well as through Irtysh.
The same situation arose at the movement to Ili from the West, from the Syrdarya. The first travelers who visited Tien-Shan mountains, having seen mountains of Zailiysky Ala-Tau from East side told - "Mountains behind the river Ili".
Thus, there was a name of the first, most northern ridge of Northern Tien-Shan - Zailiysky Ala-Tau.

Aldar Gorbunov.

Photos by:
Alexander Petrov.