The Silk Road - Episode 10
Journey Into Music-South Through The Tian Shan Mountains
From marshy 800 sq. mile lake through what film calls the most formidable pass in the southern Tien-Shan and on to Kucha, some 300 km. west of the pass. Some discussion of how important and cosmopolitan it had been in earlier centuries.
Donkey cart “busses.” Flourishing market today (“abundance of consumer goods in recent years” with nylon blouses the rage, not silk). Emphasizes fame of Kucha for its fruit and its music. Music theme throughout this film is one of its strengths: Harvest and threshing scenes and their songs, a cradle song, harvest festival with mashrab music and various traditional instruments such as dop, dotar, asatar. A tray dance, a performance of a traditional love song by an elderly woman accompanying herself on the long-necked lute, a wedding scene and its music. Interspersed is effort of Expedition to determine whether any of the instruments today are similar to ones that had come to Japan in earlier centuries via Silk Road and Kucha. Historic artifacts and paintings brought to bear–a painted box showing an “orchestra” which had been excavated in Buddhist ruins of Subashi Castle in 1903; paintings in Qumtura and Kizyl caves.
In former find a 4-stringed instrument depicted which is like the Japanese lute (biwa), Tocharian inscriptions and images with Western features. In Kizyl Caves, largest such complex after Mogao in Dunhuang, the “Music Cave” (no. 38) with many images of angels (apsaras) playing instruments. One has a 5-string lute, the unique example of which in Japan being one in the 8th-century collection of the Sho-so-in. It seems to have traveled from India, via the Tarim Basin, and then East. Xuanzang quoted about the superiority of the instrumental music of Kucha. This film has a great deal of interest.