W. Woodville Rockhill: An American in Tibet. Among the Mongols of the Azur Lake (1890)

William Woodville Rockhill was a diplomat, explorer and scholar born in 1854 – he never received any exploration medals or merits despite his many achievements. However, his legend lives on…Here is a fragment of his travel notes, published in ‘The Century’ in 1891 and digitally preserved by the Library of Congress:

“In olden times, when came the winter and the lake [Koko-nor, the Azure Lake] was covered with ice, the people who lived on its shores used to take their mares and drive them to the island. In the spring, just before the ice broke up, for then, as now, there were no boats on the lake, they went back to the island, and lo! with each mare there was a colt, and these were known as dragon colts, and could travel three hundred miles a day. There are no more dragons or dragon colts on the island nowadays, but only a few ascetics, to whom the people carry food in the winter when they can cross over to them on the ice.”


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