TIBET AND FAR WEST CHINA Report back on the 2018 ArchSoc tours
Reinoud Boers
Thu, 04/04/2019 - 19:30
The Auditorium, Roedean School, 35 Princess of Wales Terrace, Parktown, Johannesburg
Date: Thursday, 4 April 2019 Time: 19:30
Venue: The auditorium, Roedean School,
35 Princess of Wales Terrace, Parktown
Charge: Non-members: R30, members: free

In May/June 2018 and again in September, Reinoud led tours to mystical Tibet and oasis cities in the Gobi Desert
and along the edge of the Taklimakan Desert in China’s Xinjiang province, where ancient Buddhist kingdoms held
sway in the past. In Tibet, apart from highlights such as the Potala Palace in Lhasa, magnificent monasteries,
stunning views of the world’s highest mountains and geography on a humbling scale, members also encountered
the spiritual nature of Tibet: prayer halls of chanting Buddhist monks, pilgrims murmuring mantras and a level of
devotion and faith long lost in the West.
The journey in far west China followed the Silk Route in Gansu province and the Xinjiang-Uyghur Autonomous
Region that has the Taklimakan Desert as its centrepiece. Aiming for China’s westernmost city, Khashgar, where
the Karakorum, Pamir and Tian Shan mountain ranges separate China from Pakistan, Afghanistan and the rest of
central Asia, and Urumqi where the startling, brightly clothed and up to 4 000-year-old mummies of a Caucasian
people buried in the Taklamakan were seen. Along the way the fine Buddhist art of the Mogao Grottoes and the
Kizil Caves, the archaeology of Goachang City and the Jiaohe Citadel, the Astana Tombs of the Karakhoja Turkic
civilisation and the royal temples at Bezeklik were seen. In Chengdu, Sichuan province, two amazing places were
visited, the 3rd century BC Dujianguan Irrigation Project and the Sanxindui Museum with bronze objects of
exquisite beauty from the 1st millennium BC Kingdom of the Shu.
Rather than the usual illustrated lecture format, this report-back will take the form of an 90-minute video without
voice-over produced by participant John Clemens of Cape Town, with commentary added by Reinoud.