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Tang Studies 6 (1988) A T'ang Adventurer in Inner Asia MICHAEL R. DROMPP RHODES COLLEGE In 850/851 A.D., after a journey to the northern city of T'ai-yiian :t: Jw: in the circuit of Ho-tung jiiJ *, a young scholar named Li Ch'i :$~ 1 took up his brush to set right an injustice. In the northern regions he had heard of the unusual accomplishments of a military man named Ts'ai Hsi ~. ; but for his successes this man had received no reward, while his superiors had benefited from them. Li Ch'i thus wrote his "Account of Ts'ai Hsi," which is preserved in Ch'ilan T'ang wen.2 The purpose of this account clearly was to praise Ts'ai Hsi and thereby bring his achievements the recognition which, in Li Ch'i's eyes, they so richly deserved. The "Account of Ts'ai Hsi" is of considerable importance to historians of the late T'ang period, for it is the only source which deals with Ts'ai Hsi's exploits among the Uighur (Hui-hu [illH) refugees who hovered at the T'ang border early in the Huich 'ang 11~ reign-period (4 February 841- 5 February 847) after their steppe empire had been destroyed by internecine struggle and an invasion by the Turkic Kirghiz (Hsia-chia-ssu ~ ~ Wi"). The The followingabbreviations are used in footnote references: crs crw HCIPC HTS TCfC THY TTCLC Chiu T'ang shu fi m ~ (Peking: Chung-hua, 1975) Ch'ilan T'angwen ~ m::t (Taipei: Ta-t'ung, 1979) Li Wei-kung Hui-ch 'ang ip'in chi *m~ *" ~ - ~ ~ (Shanghai: Shang-wu, 1936) Hsm T'ang shu f1i 1M B(Peking: Chung-hua, 1975) Tzu chih f'ung chien ~ 1€1 jj! m (Peking: Ku-chi, 1956) T'ang hui yao m It ~ (Taipei: Shih-chieh, 1974) T'ang fa chao ling chi m"* m ~ ~ (Taipei: Ting-wen, 1978) 1 Biographies of Li Ch'i (ming also written g ;fzu Ching-wang ft!l) are found in CfS, 157.4149-50 and HTS, 146.4746-47. He was a native of Chiang-hsia iI!l. in modern Hupei (crw, 803.10637). 2 crw, 803.10649-50. 1 Drompp: T'angAdwntura Uighurs had dominated the steppe north of China for nearly a century, and their intercourse with the T'ang government is one of the most important themes in the history of T'ang foreign relations, particularly from the period of the rebellion of An Lu-shan in 755 until the collapse of the Uighur steppe empire in 840. Following the annihilation of their state, large numbers of Uighurs fled to the T'ang border in two distinct groups; one of these arrived at the border around October 840, while another arrived later, around January 842.3 It is this second group that is at the focus of Li Ch'i's account. These refugees created a situation which was both dangerous and vexing for the new Emperor Wu-tsung (r. 840-846)4 and his chief minister Li Te-yii $~*.5 The latter's writings are a source of the greatest importance for this crisis and its resolution.6 The short account written by Li Ch'i pales when compared to the large number of documents generated by Li Te-yii. Nevertheless , Li Ch'i's account does offer information that is unavailable from other sources and is valuable for several reasons. It contains hitherto unknown facts and details, some of which help to explain events or provide an alternate interpretation for those events concerning the history of the Uighur refugees. It also contains new information regarding Uighur practices. Finally, it 3 The identity of these groups and their leaders is dealt with extensively in Michael R. Drompp, "The Writings of Li Te-yil as Sources for the History of Tang-Inner Asian Relations" (Diss., Indiana University, 1986),9-65. 4 The basic annals of Emperor Wu-tsung, whose personal name was Li Ch'an ~« ,later changed to Li Yen !Ji during the course of an illness (see TCTC, 248.8022 as well as TTCLC, 5.34), are found in CTS, 18A583-611 and HTS, 8.239...


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