Sorry for not posting recently we`ve had a lot of work. There is plenty of new material in the pipeline.
Kashgar: What was and is No More
A Photo Video
The photos for this photo video were taken in the City of Kashgar in the Province of Xinjiang, Western China. They were taken during two visits; the first time in November 1990 (not 1999 as we mistakenly put on the video) and the second in August 2002.
In 1990 the center of Kashgar was dominated by the old mud brick Uyghur city with the large Id kah Mosque and the huge adjacent square at its center. Apart from the huge statue of Mao and a few empty department stores the Han Chinese presence was small. The only tourism was made up of travelers heading to and from Pakistan.
By 2002 things had already changed a lot. A modern Chinese city had built up around the old historic city and cars had predominately replaced donkeys and horses. Chinese tourists and western tour groups were also arriving in large numbers especially for the Sunday Market. The fascinating animal market had been moved out to a tamer location on the outskirts of town.
Getting to and from Kashgar was now easy and comfortable by plane or train. The 3 day bus journeys to Urumqi or Turpan a thing of the past. Interestingly individual travelers were few and far between due to the political situation in Pakistan.
Since 2002, much of the old city has been demolished and been replaced by the sterile white tile buildings that can be found all over China and much of Asia for that matter. What remains has become a tourist zone with a ticket to enter.
Hotan: These photos were taken in August 2002 in Hotan, Xinjiang, China. They are from the massive weekly Sunday market, one of the biggest in central Asia. Much of what you see here probably doesn’t exist anymore. Hotan has changed. The clothes people wear and the artisan trades are fast disappearing. Above all, Hotan is no longer so remote. What was once a hard 600 kilometer bus ride through the desert is now an easy train ride from Kashgar.
The Music on the video is from a Uyghur group called Qetic. The song is called Tarim.
I am uploading a couple of Uyghur songs that I’ve got hooked on recently.
The first, by a group called Qetic, is called Izlidim. It’s an incredibly beautiful and catchy pop song. I’d love to know what the lyrics mean (can anyone help?).
The second is a far more traditional song; Tar Kucha. The video that accompanies the song shows parts of the disappearing traditional life of the Uyghurs and has some interesting images of (correct me if I´m wrong) old Kashgar, much of which has now been demolished.
If you want to catch a bit of Uyghur music while you are in Beijing try the 31 Bar on Houhai Lake. Most nights a group of young Uyghur musicians get together for an informal session of mixed Spanish and Uyghur music. The musical talent of these guys is something to behold. Drink prices are normal Houhai prices: 20/25 yuan a beer.
In recent weeks a number of articles have appeared in the international press, warning us about the imminent destruction of the old historic quarter of the city of Kashgar. Kashgar is an oasis town in the Western province of Xinjiang, inhabited by Uyghurs, Muslims of Turkic origin. Historically, it was one of the most important stops for the caravans on the Silk Route, and its Sunday Market was, and is, renowned.
According to these articles, the Chinese Authorities’ pretext for demolishing Old Kashgar is to protect the residents from the risk of earthquakes and generally improve their living conditions. The mayor of Kashgar has deemed the old buildings to be unsafe and decided that the residents should now live in new ones. The New York Times sums it up perfectly with the title ‘To Protect an Ancient City, China Moves to Raze It’.
Hotan is remote. It is one of those end of the world places beyond which begins one of the world’s largest deserts, the Taklamakan, an enormous area of sand dunes and barren rocks forming some of the most hostile terrain on earth. Boiling in summer, freezing in winter, towns like Hotan hang precariously to the desert’s outer ring, hemmed in by the looming Kunlun Mountains that rise up to the Tibetan Plateau. Over the centuries, many other once thriving oasis towns like Hotan have succumbed to the advances of the Taklamakan, and their half hidden remains lie buried in the sand, a poignant testimony to the harshness of the environment.
The immense region of Xinjiang, situated in the far West of China, is its largest province. Xinjiang shares international borders with no less than 8 different countries; from North to South these are: Tajikistan, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. Within China, the region borders on Gansu, Qinghai and Tibet….