Ancient Uyghur Civilization (2)-Cave art by ancient Uyghurs
Treasures Of The Silk Road
2006, 205 minutes, Rated G Along the border between central Asia and India, behind the high Pamir and Tien Shan mountain chains, the Silk Road arrives at an immense basin forming a natural tone around one of the world’s largest deserts, the Taklamakan. Its exceptional size and the extremes of its climate had for many years spared it from intrusion. Merchant caravans made their way from oasis to oasis on the edge of the desert rather than risk becoming lost in an ocean of sand and dunes, a white zone on the map of the world. A crossroads of peoples, cultures and beliefs, discover the hidden civilisations of the Taklamakan – induding the lost kingdom of Loulan and its mummies, the monastery-settlements on the Silk Road, long forgotten Buddhist frescoes and the mysterious citadel of Khara Khoto. (©SBS) At the end of the 19th and the first few decades of the 20th century,scientific and archaeological expeditions to the region along the Silk Road in East Turkestan led to the discovery of numerous Uyghur cave temples, monastery ruins, wall paintings, statues, frescoes, valuable manuscripts, documents and books. Members of the expedition from Great Britain, Sweden, Russia, Germany, France, Japan, and the United States were amazed by the treasure they found there, and soon detailed reports captured the attention on an interested public around the world. The relics of these rich Uyghur cultural remnants brought back by Sven Hedin of Sweden, Aurel Stein of Great Britain, Gruen Wedel and Albert von Lecoq from Germany, Paul Pelliot of France, Langdon Warner of the United States, and Count Ottani from Japan can be seen in the Museums of Berlin, London, Paris, Tokyo, Leningrad and even in the Museum of Central Asian Antiquities in New Delhi. The manuscripts, documents and the books discovered in Eastern Turkestan proved that the Uyghurs had a very high degree of civilization. Tarim basin buddhist wall paintings The murals in the Kizil Thousand-Buddhist Caves are reputed as “The most beautiful murals in Central Asia”. They are found in 81 caves with a total area of more than 10,000 square meters (11,960 yards). The diamond grid pattern is the most impressive feature in the caves. There is a story about Buddha’s reincarnation in every gird. Each story was portrayed by a single picture instead of a series of pictures. Besides the themes of Buddha, Bodhisattva, Arhat, Flying apsaras, and Buddhist fables, a variety of depictions on production and daily life, farming, hunting, pastures, riding, mountains and rivers in the West Region, animals, birds and ancient architectures can also be seen in the Kizil Thousand-Buddha Caves. The styles are not limited to the local arts. The earlier caves took the shape similar to Bamian Caves and the murals suggested the influence of Gandhara arts, a Buddhist visual art prevailing in today’s Northwestern Pakistan and Eastern Afghanistan in First Century B.C. and Seventh Century A.D. The written documents from the Kizil Thousand-Buddha Cave were composed in Tocharian B language, a branch of the Indo-European language family that originated in central Asia during the first millennium.