The Silk Road - Pictures

The story of one of the world's oldest and most historically important trade routes and its influences on the culture of China, Central Asia and the West

Oliver Wild, 1992


Table of Contents

  1. Camels
  2. Dunes at Dunhuang
  3. Jiayuguan Fort
  4. Ruins at Gaochang
  5. Xian Market
  6. Kashgar Market
  7. Kashgar Mosque
  8. Bezeklik Grottoes

 Silk Road Picture 1

The mouth of the Hexi corridor in Gansu, where the Gobi meets the Taklimakan. A herd of camel flee from the oncoming train. Only the telegraph wires and the distant greenery on the edge of the Qilian Mountain Range reveal the presence of mankind.


 Silk Road Picture 1

A group of chinese tourists enjoy the singing sands on the edge of Mingshashan as dusk settles over the Dunhuang oasis; behind the stony Taklimakan lurks menacingly, kept temporarily at bay by the irrigation systems built up with the hard toil of local people over countless generations.


 Silk Road Picture 1

The fort at Jiayuguan marks the Western end of the Great Wall. The most rececnt fort mwas built as late as the Ming Dynasty; the massive fortifications are still clearly evident and only the wooden gate towers have been recently restored.


 Silk Road Picture 1

The ruins of Gaochang city, near Turfan. More than 1500 years ago this city was the centre of the Huihe kingdom; now the local Uygur people tend their flocks of sheep and goats in what were once the houses and streets of the provincial capital.


 Silk Road Picture 1

The muslim food street in Xian, the modern city that was once Changan, the Tang Dynasty capital. This street leads off the main westward thoroughfare only a stone's throw from the Drum Tower in the centre of the city which could justifiably lay claim to being the eastern end of the Silk Road; much of the muslim culture of Western China is still in evidence here.


 Silk Road Picture 1

A corner of the sunday market in Kashgar, the former crossroads of Asia, where the the spirit of the Silk Road lives on. Every week, the different peoples from Western China are joined by countless others from Pakistan and the former Soviet Republics in one of the world's busiest and most lively open-air markets. In this quiet corner a Uygur trader sells spices, many of which have no doubt come from much further afield.


 Silk Road Picture 1

The Id Kah Mosque in Kashgar, spiritual centre of the town. Islam was one of the later imports along the Road, and now has a firm footing throughout Xinjiang.


 Silk Road Picture 1

The Bezeklik Grottoes in the Flaming Mountains near Turfan hang precariously off a cliff above a steep gorge. However, the Buddhist carvings and murals within these caves were not sufficiently remote to escape both the onslaught of Islam and the intensions of foreign archaeologists and treasure seekers. Now there is a new threat: that of numerous coach loads of foreign and domestic tourists, keen to see what's left.


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oliver@halo.ps.uci.edu
(originally oliver@atm.ch.cam.ac.uk)