The Silk Road - Episode 11
Where Horses Fly Like the Wind
On the Kazakhs of the Northern Tien Shan. Views of horses and sheep in mountain pastures. The oasis city of Hami, famous from early times for its melons. Interesting scene of salt production. At Hami, the “Silk Road” branches, one route going south of the Tien Shan to Turfan, Korla and Kucha; the other north to Lake Barkol.
Han armies pursued Huns as far as Barkol. Interesting views of hospitality in a yurt, including ceremony of serving a sheep’s head. Shows milking a mare, and discusses the importance of mare’s milk in diet, but does not explain adequately processing of milk products. Interspersed with views of current nomadic life are historical references and quotations regarding the nomads from the early Chinese histories. Even in this region Han-era signal towers, which were manned by thousands of soldiers. Stress on fact that it was here the Han emperor sought the “heavenly horses” for his armies. Script errs in saying Chingis Khan led “Golden Horde” through here (Golden Horde is the common designation for the western part of the Mongol empire which came into being only after his death).
Legend of Prince Mu meeting the Queen Mother of the West (Xi Wang Mu) in Tienshi Lake. Interesting footage of Kazakh wedding; several scenes with music. September market at L. Tsaidam when nomads begin to descend from their summer pastures. Stress on new prosperity, availability of manufactured goods, and ethnic diversity (“races”). Ends with problematic assertion that sedentary agriculturalists change, but way of life of nomads never does (=part of the “romance” of the Silk Road). The expedition unable to cross border into USSR near where Ili River enters Kazakhstan.